“I feel very humbled to have won this competition against the great talent of my fellow competitors,” says Daigle, who prepared honey-seared bison tenderloin. “Although I was nervous presenting to the judges, I believed in my vision. I’ve learned from a number of great chefs, and it’s this learning that helped me achieve this honour.”
A new addition at this year’s Canadian Regional Competition was the People’s Choice Award, which went to Christine Amanatidis of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Vancouver for her signature crispy duck breast with chestnut bread pudding. “Winning the People’s Choice Award is awesome, but I didn’t come here to win, I came here to learn, and it’s been a great learning experience,” she said. “Ultimately you compete with yourself.”
The aspiring chefs prepared their signature dishes at the Calphalon Centre in Toronto for a celebrity panel of chef judges and media, including Jeff Dell of Milestones Restaurant in Toronto, Laurent Godbout of L’Épicier in Montreal and Chris Mills of Joey Restaurant.
Daigle is one of 10 regional winners who will be flown to California for the final event at The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley between March 11 and 14. In the States, he will compete against nine regional winners from North America in front of a panel of food media, guests and chefs. The winner will earn up to $20,000 in prizes and a paid apprenticeship from one of the participating chef judges.